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Mobile Radios

  • Linear vs Switching Power Supplies

    Linear vs Switching Power SuppliesYou want your mobile two way radio on your desktop, or you want to convert it into a base station for your shack. You've picked out radio, the antenna, and location for your rig. All you need is the power supply. There's just one minor detail. You know exactly how much power you need, but what type of power supply should you choose?

    There are several types of power supplies. These include those that are unregulated, ripple regulated, regulated linear and switching. In this article we are going to focus on comparing the two types we carry at Buy Two Way Radios for use with our mobile and base station two way radios. These two types of power supplies are Linear (regulated) and Switching.

    Linear Power Supplies
    Linear power supplies have been around for a long time. At one point it was the only choice for power supplies. They produce clean, quiet DC voltage with little to no electromagnetic noise. This makes the linear power supply a great choice for use in radio communications. A linear power supply takes the AC line voltage and puts it through a transformer to lower the voltage, then a through a rectifier and filters to convert it to DC output voltage.

    Linear power supplies are well suited for use with radios, but they do have a few drawbacks. The large transformers and filter circuits generate a lot more heat, which in turn requires large heat sinks to compensate. Due to all these components, they are also quite heavy. The more power they provide, the heavier and larger they become. In addition, their energy efficiency is fairly low compared to a switching power supply.

    Switching Power Supplies
    Switched Mode or Switching power supplies are smaller, lighter and more advanced. They also operate at considerably higher efficiency than a linear model. Switch power supplies also generate less heat, which can be an important advantage when operating in a small ham shack or in an area with limited air circulation.

    The drawback to switching power supplies is that they can introduce RFI noise. This can be a problem with inexpensive, lower quality models and small, "brick" style power supplies intended for general consumer electronics, but is not generally an issue with power supplies intended for radios and built by high quality, name brand manufacturers. Even so, the noise can be sometimes be alleviated by using EMI chokes or ferrite cores on external wiring to the radio.

    Before you shop around for power supplies, it is important to know that they are not all the same. It can make all the difference between choosing the right power supply for your radio, and not having all the power you really need.

  • Radio 101 - How to Set Repeater Channels on the Midland MXT115​

    The Midland MXT115 is a GMRS micromobile two way radio that is also repeater capable. All you need to do is activate them. This is actually quite simple and can be done very quickly, once you know how to do it. how do you activate and configure them?

    In this episode of Radio 101, Rick shows you how to easily setup the 8 GMRS repeater channels on the Midland MXT115. He also shows you how to configure a CTCSS tone or DCS code on a repeater channel.

    Want more videos? Browse our video blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

  • Introducing the Leixen VV-898 Backpack Two Way Radios

    Leixen-VV-898P.jpgA couple of years ago, Leixen introduced the VV-898, an ultra-compact, dual band VHF/UHF radio. It's about the size of a typical handheld and can fit inside almost any small vehicle with quick and easy installation. recently, Leixen released a new backpack version of this tiny mobile radio that you can carry around with you. It's almost as portable as a handheld radio and it's a lot more powerful.

    The original VV-898 is a 10 watt micro mobile dual band radio for amateur and business use. While adequate for connecting to local repeaters around town, some users wanted higher wattage for other mobile applications. To satisfy the demand for more power, Leixen recently introduced a 25 watt version, the VV-898S. It is exactly the same radio as the original with more than twice the watts. Each model transmits and receives on both VHF (136-174MHz) and UHF (400-480MHz) and can receive on 400-520MHz and 200-260MHz. They also have a built-in 87.5-108MHz FM radio receiver so you can listen to your favorite commercial radios stations.

    The VV-898 and VV-898S feature 199 programmable channels with channel scanning, dual watch, CTCSS/DCS encode/decode, DTMF, and 1750 Hz burst tone. Both models have individual call, group call, user-defined channel names, VOX capability and an emergency alarm. Each model is also equipped with a built-in 400mW speaker, backlit front panel LCD display, two front panel LEDs and a hand mic with a backlit DTMF keypad. These radios are repeater capable and Part 90 type accepted, which means they are FCC approved for commercial business users as well as hams. Read A closer look at the Leixen VV-898 for more specs and a look at its menu options.

    Of course, one of the best features of the VV-898 is its small size, which makes it even more mobile than a typical mobile radio. The VV-898 is so small and light, it is even possible to mount it in a vehicle with Velcro® and other hook and loop fasteners, as depicted in our Leixen VV-898 Quick and Easy Mobile Mount video.

    From the beginning, many hams suggested using the VV-898 in a go-box. Apparently Leixen caught wind of this idea, because they did just that, with the launch of two new variations of this micro mobile, the Leixen VV-898P and VV-898SP UHF/VHF Dual Band Mobile Backpack Two Way Radio.

    Leixen-VV-898SP.jpgNew variations of the Leixen VV-898

    The VV-898 Backpack Radio is mounted in an enclosure with everything needed to function as a battery powered mobile device capable of instant-on operation virtually anytime, anywhere. It has a rechargeable Li-Ion battery designed for extended periods of operation and a radiator fan with an on/off switch to keep it cool while transmitting out in the field. While it does use the 400mW speaker already built into the radio, a speaker jack is located on the side of the unit for more flexibility and external audio configurations. It includes a 13.8v AC adapter to recharge the battery or to power the radio when used as a base station.

    Two backpack models

    Like the stand alone mobile versions, the VV-898 backpack radios are available in two models.

    Leixen VV-898P - This is the 10W model. It has a 6A Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. Price: $159.99.
    Leixen VV-898SP - This is the 25W model. It has a 10A Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. Price: $179.99

    Thumbnail image for Leixen-VV-898SP-side.jpgPotential uses

    The VV-898 backpack radio is designed to sit upright on its end. This allows you to slip the radio vertically into a backpack or sling bag and operate it while walking around town or along the trail on a hike. The SO-239 (UHF Female) antenna connector is located on the front face of the radio so a whip antenna such as the Nagoya NL-R2 will also orient vertically when attached to the unit.

    Some advantages and potential uses of this radio include:

    • Sits vertically in a pack so you can use it while hiking or walking
    • Perfect for use as an instant, ready-made ham radio go-box
    • Can also be set on a desk and used as a base station
    • Can be easily converted back to a mobile rig for use in a vehicle

    The chassis is designed for easy disassembly, so you can take the radio itself out of the backpack box and mount it in your vehicle. To add value, Leixen included a mounting bracket and 12v DC power cord with T connector in the package, just in case. While not specifically recommended by Leixen, the package does include instructions for proper backpack to mobile conversion.

    There is one caveat to its portability outdoors. Although the VV-898P and VV-898SP Backpack radios are designed with field communications in mind, these units are not designated as waterproof, or even weatherproof. It isn't dust proof for the trail and isn't designed for high humidity or moisture saturated environments. It is important to keep that in mind when taking it along on a hiking or camping trip. However, for many applications in stable environments, the VV-898 Backpack radios offer a lot of options and versatility.

    All four models of the Leixen VV-898 are available from Buy Two Way Radios. For an in-depth discussion of the backpack models, listen to The Two Way Radio Show Podcast TWRS-101 - Leixen Mobile Backpack Radios.
    For a closer look at the VV-898 radio, watch our Leixen VV-898 Unboxing Video.Leixen-VV-898P-with-accessories.jpg

  • Leixen VV-898 unboxing video

    Need a compact mobile radio for a compact vehicle? Here it is. The Leixen VV-898 is an extremely compact UHF/VHF dual band radio that can get you on the air with about half the footprint of the standard mobile radio. It's not just an amateur radio either. It's FCC Part 90 type accepted as a mobile business radio for commercial and institutional use as well.

    In this video, Danny Feemster opens the box, gives you a brief look at the VV-898, and talks about some of its key features. The Leixen VV-898 is available from Buy Two Way Radios.

  • Small and Discreet Radios For Hard-To-Install Vehicles

    Effective communications while on the road is important to a radio operator, which is why there are so many mobile radios on the market today. However, as newer vehicles become more compact, the installation of a full-featured mobile radio is becoming more of a challenge. Large RVs or trucks usually offer more room to install a mobile unit without too much trouble, but many modern sedans and small compact cars offer little room and few options for adding another device to the dash. If you want to put a mobile radio in your car, but space on or under the dash is very limited or almost non-existent, what can you do?

    Fortunately, there are options, and they are not only sensible, they are often more affordable, as well.

    The most obvious choice, of course, is to find a mobile radio that is small enough to fit within the confines of your vehicle. This is easier said than done, since the radio needs to be large enough to provide the range, wattage and full feature set most radio operators generally expect from a typical mobile transceiver. Mobile radios come in different sizes, but even the smaller models may still be too big to mount in some newer vehicles. However, there is now one radio that may resolve the issue for many mobile users - the Leixen VV-898.

    The Leixen VV-898 is an ultra-compact dual band UHF/VHF radio that can fit inside almost any small vehicle. It's tiny, about the size of a handheld, and is very lightweight compared to other mobiles, which also makes it easier to mount. It's so small and light weight, it may even be possible to mount the VV-898 with hook-and-loop strips if necessary, although the included lightweight mounting bracket is recommended. (we haven't yet tried to use hook-and-loop to mount it, so we don't currently recommend it). It includes many features found on most standard mobile radios, plus one or two that aren't, such as the ability to change frequencies wirelessly.

    The VV-898 uses a standard SO-239 (UHF female) antenna connector for easy compatibility with many dual band mobile radio antennas and is powered with the standard 12 volts provided by most vehicles. It operates on up to 10 watts of transmit power. Of course, 10W is considerably lower than your standard 40w to 50w mobile radio, however it is still sufficient to reach local repeaters in many cities and suburban areas across the US, and is double the wattage of the typical amateur or business handheld radio. Considering the increased popularity of using handheld radios as mobile transceivers in vehicles today, the VV-898 is a definite upgrade.

    The best part is the price. At around $150 MSRP, The VV-898 costs considerably less than other mobile radios and is comparable to the cost of a decent handheld.

    If size matters but wattage is critical, another option is to find a full size mobile radio that can operate from the dash but install somewhere else. Some radio manufacturers, aware of the space issue in modern vehicles, are now using this method as a primary solution. An increasing number of mobile two way radios are now manufactured with a detachable front panel. The chassis of the radio can be discreetly installed somewhere else in the vehicle, such as under the dash or under a seat where there is more room, and the front panel can be mounted on the front of the dash or anywhere else more convenient for the driver.

    The Wouxun KG-UV920P-A and KG-UV950P offer this option and go even further, providing not one, but two front panel mounting plates, one angled and one straight. Both models also include an extension cable so the radio can connect to the front panel from almost anywhere inside the vehicle. Some Icom and Vertex business mobile radios offer such an option as well. This split installation allows you to find more space to mount your radio more securely and still be within your reach while driving.

    Whether you choose a tiny transceiver or a unit that can be split in two, there are ways to effectively install a mobile two way radio into a vehicle with very limited available space. We're always searching for more options. Any other ideas? Post a comment below!

  • Radio 101 - The facts about squelch

    A common term heard among two way radio operators is squelch. It is a standard feature of consumer, business, amateur, air band, marine, and CB radios. But what is it? What does it do? In this episode of Radio 101, Anthony from Buy Two Way Radios explains what squelch is and how it works.

  • It's National Hurricane Preparedness Week - Get Ready!

    This week - May 27th through June 2nd - is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. With the coincidental arrival of Tropical Storm Beryl, we've already had a taste of what this 2012 hurricane season could be like. Beryl was not even a category one hurricane, yet this storm packed a considerable punch with wind and rain, causing power outages and cancelling Memorial Day events along the Florida and Georgia coasts.

    Tropical Storm Beryl is said to be the most powerful tropical storm in recorded history to hit the Atlantic coast of the US outside of hurricane season, which officially begins today, June 1. But it wasn't the first cyclone to jump the starting date. Tropical Storm Alberto, which formed off the coast of South Carolina, claimed that spot in mid May.

    The National Weather Service advises everyone to be prepared for hurricane season this week. Develop an emergency plan of action and/or evacuation in case of an emergency. Prepare an emergency disaster kit with basic provisions, including:

    Collecting everything you need to build an emergency kit can be time consuming and even a bit daunting, especially if you are someone who is always busy or on the go. For those who want to be prepared but don't have the time or patience to go on a scavenger hunt for emergency supplies, you can get one already prepared for you. Buy Two Way Radios now carries a complete line of emergency and survival kits, from the Basic Necessities Emergency Kit to the Four Person Survivor Kit.

    Of course, our specialty is radios. For the NWS Emergency Preparedness List posted above, we recommend the Midland ER102 Emergency Crank Radio or the Midland XT511 Base Camp Two Way / Emergency Crank Radio. The XT511 is also an FRS/GMRS two way radio, which could come in handy if land line or cell phone communications are out.

    For a complete overview of these and other emergency/weather radios, read the Weather Radio Buyer's Guide. To help you choose the best weather radio for your situation, check out our Emergency Weather Radio Comparison Guide.

    So far we've had two storms in one month, before the hurricane season has even begun. Is this just an anomaly, or a shadow of things to come? Does it really matter? The National Weather Service advises us all to get ready, always be ready, because you just never know until the next storm comes.

    For more information on emergency weather radios, listen to The Two Way Radio Show Episode 13 - Emergency and Weather Radios.

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